Apple Car cameras may identify landmarks & objects of interest, detect broken windows

Beyond autonomous driving, the Apple Car can use its cameras to identify objects of interest and other vehicles, and to detect damage to car windows.

Digital imaging is an important part of any self-driving car because it is used in conjunction with other systems on the road and to detect potential dangers. Having the camera collection could be beneficial in other ways, which Apple has envisioned in a pair of related automotive imaging patents.

Object recognition

For the first patent, “A method and system for providing at least one image captured by a scene camera of a vehicle”, Apple suggests using on-board cameras to capture a photograph of a nearby object. While this is typically used for recognizing objects for driving, like identifying bollards, traffic cones, or pedestrians, Apple’s proposal is a bit more to the left.

The deposit motivates the driver or a passenger may be interested in identifying an object of interest for himself, possibly to find other types of the same object. Additionally, a user may wish to purchase this item, if possible, and be directed to a store offering it for sale, or for a “hands-on check”.

It may also be impossible for a person in a vehicle to take a photo of something outside while on the move, such as if they are pressed for time and cannot stop the car.

Apple’s patent description is basically telling the car to take a photo of something outside the vehicle, which triggers the cameras facing the outside of the car to capture an image or multiple images. These photographs can then be used either as a recording of a moment in a scene, or for an object recognition system.

The patent suggests that a user’s gaze could tell external cameras where to shoot.

The filing suggests that the Apple Car Photo System could monitor the user’s gaze to determine where they are looking at the time of a voice request. For passengers, a gesture could be detected to perform the same task.

In the case of object recognition, the images can be transmitted to a system to recognize objects in a scene, determine which one is of interest to the user, and then to acquire more informationon about that element.

The patent lists its inventors like Lejing Wang and Thomas Alt, and it was filed on June 21, 2019.

The idea of ​​using external cameras for alternative purposes has already been explored, with the 2019 patent application “Automated Image Data Capture for Points of Interest” used to take pictures of areas of a environment that may be worth knowing to a user. This same app suggested that a user could request that a photograph be taken of a scene.

Broken windows

The second patent, “Window Defect Detection and Image Processing” is simpler, but revolves around the use of cameras inside the vehicle, rather than those facing the outside. This can include cameras used for gesture recognition or gaze detection, which can be used for other functions of the car.

In short, the patent suggests lighting up car windows and using imaging sensors to capture a photograph of the window. The image is then used to determine if there are any cracks or defects in the window, which could pose a hazard to the safety of the passenger or driver.

Apple offers the use of edge lighting to illuminate the inside of the glass, with surrounding modules capable of illuminating different sections. These light modules can transmit generally unfiltered light or grazing lighting, i.e. directional light at a sharp angle, which can be better in highlighting cracks and other issues.

Several on-board imaging sensors and lighting modules could help detect cracks and window issues.

Several on-board imaging sensors and lighting modules could help detect cracks and window issues.

Rather than relying on a single image sensor, Apple suggests using multiple sensors to take images, which can then be compared. As each sensor is located in a different known position, this may allow improved processing to be performed on the images, such as determining the exterior view of the vehicle and eliminating that of the data to leave only the window and windows. defaults.

Once a problem has been determined, the results can be communicated to the driver or other users via a notification or alert.

The system isn’t necessarily limited to cracks and scratches, as it could be used for more everyday functionality as well. It is suggested that a window cleaning system could be produced to clean specific points on the window itself, rather than cleaning the entire window each time.

The inventors of the patent are listed as Clarisse Mazuir, Malcolm J. Northcott, Jack E. Graves, James R. Wilson, Christopher D. Jones and Martin Melcher. It was filed on May 15, 2018.

Apple has devised other ways to detect cracks in windows, such as the one revealed in early August that relied on a blocking layer of infrared light, ohmic heating currents, and resistive measurements to determine size and size. location of cracks.

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, but if the existence of a patent indicates areas of interest to the company’s research and development efforts, that doesn’t necessarily mean the idea will appear in a future. future product or service.

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